LONDON — Police sent hundreds of officers into the streets of the racially tense city of Oldham on Tuesday, hoping to stave off a fourth night of violence between whites and South Asians.
There were reports of vandalism overnight, but the incidents were minor compared with the previous three nights, a police spokeswoman said. She said bricks were thrown through the windows of a small number of pubs.
Rioting in the gritty former mill town over the weekend resulted in the arrests of 33 white people and 16 youths of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent.
At its peak early Sunday, the rioting saw up to 500 youths hurling firebombs and setting cars afire.
Politicians and members of Oldham's large South Asian community say racist groups have targeted the hardscrabble town, about 170 miles northwest of London, sending in agitators to whip up tension since the mugging last month of 76-year-old Walter Chamberlain, allegedly by South Asian youths.
Members of the ultra-right-wing National Front and British National Party had been traveling to Oldham on weekends, said Oldham council leader Richard Knowles.
But British National Party leader Nick Griffin, who is running for an Oldham parliamentary seat in the June 7 general election, denied that his group was responsible for stirring up racial tension.
"The only people responsible for Asian riots are Asian rioters," said Griffin, who advocates the separation of whites and nonwhites, with dividing walls to keep the communities apart.
Between one-fifth and one-quarter of Oldham's population is immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent.